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Job opportunities for IDPs in North and South Waziristan

22 January, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for State and Frontier Regions retired Lt Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch said on Wednesday 21,January,2015 a strategy was being formulated by the government to create job opportunities for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North and South Waziristan agencies because until a few years ago most people there knew only about weapons’ manufacturing and related business activities.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister said the government was planning to generate and boost economic activities in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) such as extraction of minerals, construction of infrastructure and launching of other development projects to provide jobs to IDPs because the government would not allow manufacturing of arms in the area in future.

The government would also promote educational activities in the region, he said.

"The army has done its job by carrying out the Zarb-i-Azb operation successfully; now it is the job of the civil armed forces, politicians and media to change the mindset of the people and ensure that Fata youths are no longer attracted to militants," he said.

Mr Baloch said the army had purged most areas in North Waziristan of Taliban and other militants and the government had decided to send IDPs back to their homes in phases.

He said that rehabilitation of IDPs would begin in the second or third week of February and the entire process was likely to be completed within a year.

He said that around two million IDPs had been living away from their homes and about Rs100 billion would be required to rehabilitate them.

Hundreds of millions of rupees would be required for reconstruction of the infrastructure damaged in the army operation, he said.

"In the past militants used to be nurtured in the Fata agencies, but now 98 per cent of the people there oppose militants as they have rejected terrorism as a means of achieving their goals," the minister remarked.

"Now it is the job of the nation to support IDPs and play a role in their rehabilitation and to wean them away from acts of terrorism," Mr Baloch said.

The minister said that because of the sit-ins in Islamabad the nation could not be mobilised to help IDPs immediately after the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb operation as had been done in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake. But now some people were playing their role in the rehabilitation and education of IDPs.

"Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi and some other people have offered to bear education expenses of 235 children of IDPs for five years. Similarly, students of Pak-Turk school have donated Rs10 million and students of NUST have donated Rs5.5m for the IDPs," he said.

"Although property tycoon Malik Riaz announced Rs5 billion for IDPs, the amount has yet to be transferred to the government accounts," he said.

The minister appealed to the people to come forward and reconstruct hospitals and schools in Fata.

Answering a question about Afghan refugees living in the country for the past 35 years, Mr Baloch said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had been told that all Afghans must go back to their country before Dec 31 this year.

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